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The Diamond Lens

3.31 of 5 stars 3.31  ·  rating details  ·  45 ratings  ·  4 reviews
Fitz-James O'Brien (1828-1862) was an author and is often considered one of the forerunners of today's Science Fiction. While he was in college he had shown an aptitude for writing verse, and two of his poems Loch Ine and Irish Castles were published in The Ballads of Ireland (1856). His earliest writings in the United States were contributed to the Lantern. Subsequently h ...more
Paperback, 48 pages
Published February 15th 2008 by Dodo Press (first published 1858)
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Amy Sturgis
Rereading this for my class, I am struck again by the balance of the Gothic and the scientific in O'Brien's story. This is the first known published tale in which another world is perceived through a microscope, and O'Brien does great justice to the sense of wonder and longing this sight evokes. It's a powerfully dark and haunting story despite its brevity.
Артём Багинский
As far as I can make out this is a story of mankind looking at nature with destructive admiration, with a moral along the lines of The Little Prince - we're responsible for who we discover and observe, due to some quantum mechanical effects, anticipated by O'Brien all the way in 1858. Another trope that seems to be at the basis of the story is the blood and madness trail that is routinely left by especially large jewels.

One bit - and if you're spoiler-averse then close your eyes - reminded me of
Scott Harris
Considering the era in which this short story was written, O'Brien was impressive in his capacity to imagine a world within the world. Even more impressive though was his capacity to demonstrate the humility that was lacking in many other pieces of science fiction, wherein although the human capacity could discover but only to reveal a better reality than the one lived. Some very interesting theological reflections can be borne out reading this piece
I failed to see any potential output from this story. I don't even understand if it did beheld any symbolism. It's just me.

The language is exquisite and was extremely poetic. Unexpected twist of events. How extreme passion can drive one to do immoral things, if there be, just to satisfy the thirst is very clearly shown.
MB Taylor
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Nov 03, 2015
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He was born Michael O'Brien in County Cork, and was very young when the family moved to Limerick, Ireland. He attended the University of Dublin, and is believed to have been at one time a soldier in the British army. On leaving college he went to London, and in the course of four years spent his inheritance of 8,000, meanwhile editing a periodical in aid of the World's Fair of 1851. About 1852 he ...more
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